Irish Soda Bread is the bread that my Irish Granny made all of the time. At least twice a week, Granny baked a loaf of this bread. And she always brought a loaf when she came to our house. We didn't know that it had a name, back then. We called it Granny's bread, and we just knew that it was different from “regular bread”. As in, no thanks, I want Granny's bread for my toast.
We loved that Irish Soda Bread, which I now know that it was. It was rustic, hearty and down to earth. Perfect for toast and for mopping up the last of your soup. One of my most delicious childhood memories was eating a slice, still warm from the oven, slathered with butter and honey.
Granny could practically whip up a loaf of soda bread with her eyes closed and in no time at all, out of the oven came a rounded, fragrant loaf with the signature cross scored across the top. The cross was cut before the loaf went into the oven to “let the fairies out” I always thought the speed and ease were due to Granny's amazing bread making skills. Which was strange, because other than the bread, she wasn't much of a cook at all. In fact, Grampa did almost all of the cooking.
In reality, this is a quick bread. The leavening agent is baking soda, rather than yeast, so there is no wait time, minimal mixing, and no kneading. There are many different versions of Irish Soda Bread. This one is the closest to Granny's bread that I can get. The buttermilk is key, and without it, the bread will taste completely different.
I used a cast iron skillet to bake the bread, but you can just use a baking sheet, too.
- 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup porridge oats + 2 tbsp for topping
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cold butter
- 2 cups buttermilk + 1 tbsp for topping
- Preheat oven to 425°
- In a large bowl, combine flours, oats, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender, or your fingers.
- Make a well, and pour in buttermilk.
- Stir together quickly, being careful not to over mix. (dough will be sticky)
- Shape by hand into a flat round about 8" across
- With a sharp knife, score a large, deep X across the top.
- Use a pastry brush to glaze the top with buttermilk, then sprinkle with oats
- Bake in center of oven about 30 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.
If you don't have buttermilk (really, who usually does?) on hand, an easy sub is two tbsp lemon juice or vinegar to one cup of low fat milk. Stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes, and you have a perfect buttermilk substitute.